A former Brave, Lucas Sims roughly halved the usage of his changeup this past season to just 5.9%. In a brief 42-pitch sample size, it showed impressive swing-and-miss ability with a 50% whiff rate (23.8% swinging-strike rate). But when hitters made contact, yikes: A .502 xwOBA.
Sims’ curveball showed outstanding spin (100th percentile). Overall, it was a very effective pitch, notching a 47.5% zone rate, 42.9% chase rate, and a 15.6% swinging-strike rate. And it held opposing hitters to a paltry .219 xwOBA.
Sims’ fastball sits at 93.5 mph (up from 92.3 mph in 2018) and features outstanding spin rate (99th percentile). He did a nice job of featuring the pitch at the top of the zone. Overall, it induced an impressive 26.5% whiff rate (11.4% swinging-strike rate) and held batters to a respectable .325 xwOBA.
The slider, his primary putaway pitch at 41.5%, was an absolute tour de force for Sims this past season, as it notched an eye-popping 55.2% whiff rate (20.1% swinging-strike rate). Against right-handed batters, it was simply death personified, as it tallied a 64.3% whiff rate while relinquishing a .132 xwOBA.
No one is getting blown away by Sims’ fastball. He throws it the average velocity of a left-handed pitcher in a big league—not a good thing when he’s a right—and walked a few hitters with it. The walk total is also a representative of him going to the fastball when he’s behind in the count, but still a problem. Also, 22.2 percent of the fly balls—of which he gives up too many in reference to liners and grounders—leave the yard.
A strikeout pitch that also generates grounders when put in play, Sims’ curve is his best pitch. He gets a fair amount of swing-and-misses. He buckled a hitter or two with it, too. Assuming he gets more time in 2019, you should expect to see more of the curve.
Sims’ changeup has some sweet action to it. It’s an all right pitch. Biggest problem he has with it is he gave up line drives with it far too often. Maybe if he makes a point of keeping it down—where it will move more—he’ll find more success. The promise it shows should be motivation enough to drop either the cutter or sinker so he can focu on this.
Hitters wanted Sims’ sinker in 2018. That’s probably why he only threw it 39 times. He never walked a hitter with it, but that’s probably more a sign of his lack of faith in a pitch that hitters batter .364 against (.429 BABIP).
Sims barely used his cutter in 2018 after dumping his slider following the 2017 season. Having four pitches ahead in the pecking order, it’s likely he won’t use it much again in 2019.